Tuesday, January 6, 2015

CELLabration Time! @NYCSChools Pave The Way for #MLearning with Cell Phones

Social Media isn’t the only area in which New York City is paving the way. As announced in the NY Daily News, the New York City Department of Education will lift the ban on cell phones and other digital devices in March.

Instead of banning devices, schools will have options including:

  1. Store mobile devices in backpacks or a designated location during the school day.
  2. Allow mobile devices to be used during lunch or in designated areas only.
  3. Allow mobile devices for instructional purposes in some or all classrooms.

While there have been teachers, schools, and districts who have given students the freedom to bring cell phones and other technology to school, New York City is the largest. This will set the trend and help move others to open the doors for student devices in school.
This comes with some good and bad news.

Bad news
  • For the million dollar cell phone storage business that’s been profiting off inner city children. Their services are no longer required.
  • As reported in the New York Times some principals are concerned students will use phones to organize and record fights. That said, students have these devices whether or not they bring them to school. Schools can play an important role in addressing inappropriate behavior and helping to keep students safe.
  • The Times also shared that some feared students would be distracted. This however, is where professional development plays a role in teaching staff how they can use student devices as tools of engagement.
    Good news

    • For parents who want to ensure their children are safe when they are away from the home.
    • For students and parents who will no longer be required to pay a daily rate to store phones. A saving of about $180 a year according to Chancellor Carmen Farina.
    • For innovative educators who’ve been eager to integrate student devices into learning. The Chancellor explains  in the NY Daily News educational benefits such as their ability to help overcome language barriers in multilingual classrooms, encourage class participation and capture students’ understanding of key concepts.
    • Students like the idea.  See what they said by watching the video at the end of the story that appeared in Chalkbeat's coverage of the story or NY 1's interviews with students
    The research is clear. Students learn best when they have access to mobile devices. The NYCDOE has been supporting staff in digital literacy, cybersafety, social media, and mobile learning for several years supported by guidelines created with students, staff, and parents. Teachers also have professional learning opportunities and online learning communities to provide ongoing support. Now more students will have access to the resources they need to be successful both inside and outside the classroom.

    You can read press release on the topic here.

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